Brno: the Manhattan to my Long Island

Time is moving so fast! I am teaching my second class today- next week I will be working nearly the full 20 hours/week. This post is about a week and a half overdue- in fact, I am going to Brno again today to register with the foreign police and extend my work visa fully.

Brno (burr-no, or to be more correct you’d roll your “r” like brrrno) is the second largest city in the Czech Republic after, you guessed it, Prague.  To me, the feel is like a Chicago or a Boston, lots of historical sites and fun things to do, but it still manages to be low-key.

And all of the buildings- ALL OF THEM- are beautiful and colorful and interesting looking, even when there’s nothing to see inside.

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In fact, Brno in August reminds me of Jerusalem in December. It’s been unseasonably chilly here for the past couple weeks.

And as with Jerusalem, walking a city is my favorite way to know it. I first visited Brno on my way to Olomouc (Oh-la-mohts, for a future post), and it felt really good to find my way around, especially when I’d lost myself and needed to get back to the main train station (hlavní nádraží, quite a tongue twister when you try to say it to people). The Czech Republic has one of the densest systems of public transport in Europe, and there are tram tracks (like a light rail in the street) all over the city center.

In walking around, I found myself in a student park, where the water fountain looked like this and the water came out the top…

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Hanging out in this park and eating the schnitzel sandwich my honorary Czech grandma gave me (this is kinda like the PBJ of USA), afforded some great views of the city from above, though it was an overcast day.

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I left that park and started trekking around the streets. I saw some people coming down from a stony ramp that looked like it was leading up into some greenery, so I started walking up…

and up… it started to rain, I started to wonder when this park would stop inclining…

after the rain stopped I kept walking up in spite of myself…

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…and found myself on top of a castle. Hrad Špilberk (Castle Shpilberg) to be exact. This place was used as a medieval fortress, then a prison and barracks in the last few hundred years, but now hosts cultural events like movie showings. Yay  repurposing!

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I had some Turkish coffee and medovník (honey cake) at Kavárna Špilberk while studying some Czech. It was awesome!

Time for more exploring! This is the Czech version of a “Whole Foods”:

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Bio, pronounced “bee-oh,” means natural and organic foods. They are typically quiiiite small shops, and not what I’m used to, but you can find some great stuff. I’m searching for peanut butter…WHICH EUROPEANS DON’T EAT!

I went into a few other kavárnas, or cafés, as well. Might as well spend my time here doing exactly what I’d do in NYC 😉 In fact though, the posher coffee shops have V60 and Aeropress.

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I will also always remember Brno as the city where a restaurant-pub will send you your beer via an electric train running through the customer’s tables. Word.

A last note about Brno…While I was walking around that day, I kept seeing these green stands selling a yellow drink that was really popular. Eventually, I was so curious that I went over and asked the young woman what the drink was, expecting her to say lemonade. Instead, she told me it was burčák, “burr-chack,” a young Moravian white wine with around 5% alcohol that comes into season around this time. There was an older lady at the stand who had just bought a cup that kept pointing at it and saying “wine, wine!”

Photo credit to vitalia.cz
Photo credit to vitalia.cz

Did I need any more encouragement? I bought my own cup for 30 CZK ($1.5) and it was DELICIOUS, refreshing and lemony!

And then for the rest of the time I was drinking it, I kept glancing around and expected to be arrested any moment. Drinking wine on the street?! This would never fly in the U.S.!

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